Monday, October 31, 2011

No Second Chance by Harlan Coben

No Second Chance wasn't my favorite Coben book. I really enjoyed it at first, but then it just started to drag.

The thing that really bothered me about this book was that the main character Marc Seidman has the same name as a main character in Coben's first book, Play Dead. In a letter to readers at the beginning of Play Dead, Coben mentions that sometimes he borrowed details from Play Dead and used them in other books.

I didn't like that, because it seems like writers should not use the same name for characters in different books, unless they are the same person. This character had the same name, but was a completely different person.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Maine is the story of three generations of one family, focusing on the Kelleher women. The matriarch, Alice, is one tough lady. Centering around the cottage and beach house that Alice & her husband won decades earlier, the novel moves back and forth between past and present, all through Alice's eyes. She shares her love, her secrets, and her disappointments involving her extended and sometimes troubled children and their families. This will be a great choice for a book discussion group, as the characters are really something!


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is best known for his detective novels, particularly his Easy Rawlins series. Mosley’s recent novel The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is not a detective novel but still has many mysteries its main character Ptolemy Grey, a 91 year old man living by himself and suffering from dementia, tries to solve. At the start of the book Ptolemy struggles with the simplest things such as remembering who his relatives are and whether or not his grand nephew stole some of his pension checks. Ptolemy and the supporting characters are so richly developed that Mosley probably would have had enough material for a novel right there, but the book takes a surprising turn when Ptolemy starts taking an experimental drug that helps him with his memory. Suddenly, Ptolemy is able to make sense of what is going on around him for the first time in years. Ptolemy remembers that, despite living in abject poverty, he has a great amount of wealth including a suitcase full of cash and a large number of antique gold coins. His biggest challenge in his last days is trying to figure out what friends and family members he can trust once they learn of his wealth and if his favorite nephew, Reggie, was shot by a random gang member, which is what everyone says happened, or perhaps someone closer to Ptolemy’s family.
Upon finishing The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey my only regret was that I had not become a Walter Mosley fan sooner.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

This author is quickly becoming one of my favorite suspense writers. The Accident is his newest, and once again he kept me guessing.

A father is waiting with his eight-year-old for his wife to come home from class. As it gets later and later and he cannot reach her on her cell, he decides to go searching for her. Coming across a very serious accident, his worst fears are realized. His wife has been killed along with two others, and it appears the accident was her fault. She had been drinking.

From here on, the story goes on to become one big puzzle.

Good luck with that!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

The Bergamots move from a college town in upstate New York to New York City. They begin to adapt to city life, and are able to take advantage of all that upper-class living has to offer, including an elite private school for their children. Jake is fifteen years old and quickly makes friends and is one of the in-crowd. He attends an unchaperoned party where he turns down the advances of an eight-grade admirer. Jake wakes up the next morning to an email from this admirer. She's attached a sexually-explicit video. Not thinking about the consequences, Jake forwards it to a friend, who forwards it onto someone else. Not soon after, the video goes viral. The consequences soon spiral out of control for the Bergamots, and they're left to deal with the scandal.

I had high hopes for This Beautiful Life, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. With such an interesting premise, the book could have easily been 100 pages longer. A longer story might have allowed the author to go into more detail and develop the story further. The ending felt very rushed, and it seemed as if the author were just trying to tie up loose ends.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner

Morgenson and Rosner, a business reporter and mortgage analyst, have written a best-selling expose on the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008.  The book focuses on Fannie Mae and its officers, who used its status as a GSE to amass millions of dollars for themselves and lobby for influence in Washington.  As politicians urged banks to make toxic loans to increase the rate of home ownership, Fannie Mae was there to buy them, package them into securities and sell them to investors.  Other players in the crisis are also examined, such as subprime lenders like Countrywide and Novastar, Citigroup, and the Federal Reserve Bank.  Morgenson and Rosner show that those activities began in the 1990s, including a Subprime 1.0 crisis in 1998.  Despite efforts of some politicians to change regulatory practices and legislate against subprime lenders, the industry kept growing until the bubble burst in 2008.  The book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the current housing crisis.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bedbugs by Ben Winters

There isn't really any explanation as to what this book is about or that it is pure horror - just look at the title! This is one of those stories that you are constantly saying to yourself "Don't open the door!". Bedbugs begins with a nice young couple that have a beautiful young daughter having trouble finding an affordable apartment. Finally after much searching, they come across the perfect one that is actually in their price range. Too good to be true, right? Of course, we know that, but they certainly don't...